• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain


    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Road Open to: Mile 30 (Teklanika River)

    The Denali Park Road is currently open to Mile 30, Teklanika River. If wintry conditions occur, the road may close at some point closer to the park entrance. More »

A Denali Backpacking Guide

Wilderness - A Land Without Trails

"Without self-discovery, a person may still have self-confidence, but it is a self-confidence built on ignorance and it melts in the face of heavy burdens. Self-discovery is the end product of a great challenge mastered, when the mind commands the body to do the seemingly impossible, when strength and courage are summoned to extraordinary limits for the safe of something outside the self - a principle, an onerous task, another human life."

- Kurt Hahn

Traveling and camping in this expansive terrain is special. You will find the backcountry of Denali is different from what you may encounter in other national parks. There are no trails, designated routes, or backcountry campsites here to guide your wilderness adventure. The goal of the Backcountry Information Center (BIC) is to provide visitors with the means of self-reliance and self-discovery. It encourages hikers to find what appeals to them rather than following specific routes. Rangers working here will provide you with the knowledge to make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible - but, the path you choose in the backcountry will be your own. Take time to study the unit descriptions to find the perfect trip for you. The more effort your group invests in planning your trip, the larger the reward.

You must come prepared to travel cross-country through remote terrain in harsh weather, and rescue yourself in the event of problems. It is also your responsibility to help protect the special resources and opportunities that are present in Denali by carefully following the principles of Leave No Trace, so that your travels do not diminish the experience of those who follow you.

Backcountry Unit System

The unit-by-unit descriptions (below) in this backpacking guide will help you prepare in advance and in person for your Denali backpacking adventure.

The six million acres of Denali are divided into 87 separate backcountry units. Forty-one units have a limit on the number of individuals that can camp in each unit per night. During peak summer visitation, many of these units are heavily used, so please come to the Backcountry Desk with several alternative trip itineraries. Don't become discouraged if your first choice is not available. Remember, there are six million acres to choose from, and all units offer excellent wilderness trips.

Note the following information when planning a trek through Denali's backcountry:

  • Forty-one backcountry units have a specific quota
  • Unit availability determines where you may camp each night, and you must camp in the unit for which you have a permit
  • Maximum seven consecutive nights in a single unit
  • Maximum thirty nights in the backcountry during a summer season (April 15 - September 30)
  • "Double booking" a night in two different units or a unit and a campground is not permitted
  • Permits are issued only in person (no telephone or email reservations), and no more than one day in advance of your trip
  • All party members must be present to receive a permit
  • Permits are not required for day-hiking in the backcountry
Planning Your Denali Backpacking Adventure

Click on any unit number in the map below to read a thorough description of that unit. Some of the very remote units are grouped together; and the heart of the Alaska Range (Units 45-48, 86 and 87) link to our mountaineering webpages.

Text links to each unit's specific web page are also provided below the map.
Backcountry Grid Map Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4Unit 5Unit 6Unit 7Unit 8Unit 9Unit 10Unit 11Unit 12Unit 13Unit 14Unit 15Unit 16Unit 17Unit 18Unit 19Unit 20Unit 21Unit 22Unit 23Unit 24Unit 25Unit 26Unit 27Unit 28Unit 29Unit 30Unit 31Unit 32Unit 33Unit 34Unit 35Unit 36Unit 37Unit 38Unit 39Unit 40Unit 41Unit 42Unit 43Units 61, 62 & 63Unit 69Units 80 - 85Unit 70Unit 71Units 65-68Unit 64Units 72 - 79Mountaineering in the Alaska Range

Did You Know?

Image of fossilized, three-toed dinosaur print

In the summer of 2005 a footprint of a dinosaur was found in Denali National Park. The print has been identified as belonging to a three toed foot of a Cretaceous Theropod.